The third (and presumably final!) WresleMania match between The Undertaker and Triple H took place inside the infamous Hell in a Cell. There was a questionable premise behind the third match: even though ‘Taker defeated HHH at ‘Mania XVII, he wanted a rematch because HHH had handed him a horrific beating. Right away, it only made sense in the loosest of terms. Surely ‘Taker had already proven he was better than HHH? It wasn’t a fluke victory. However, opponents for ‘Taker at that point were thin on the ground (as they are now), so they needed an excuse for the two to face off again at ‘Mania. They gave us a slow, intermittently dramatic match that was apparently all about the story between HHH, Taker and special guest referee Shawn Michaels. It was ‘The End of an Era…’
At first, HBK as the special guest referee made no sense. He’s buddies with HHH, for one. For two, ‘Taker retired HBK at ‘Mania XXVI. We’d seen in the past that HBK was never an impartial referee when officiating matches with HHH. Together with the Hell in a Cell, HBK felt like another unnecessary addition to make the third match at ‘Mania between the two competitors different. For the first half of the match, HBK officiates it impartially. However, as HHH beats ‘Taker down with a chair repeatedly, Michaels interferes. It’s supposed to add to the drama of the match, but in fact it diminishes it. Surely HBK would want to see the guy who retired him be beaten down? His interactions do rack up the tension in the closing moments of the match, however.
In an era where selling seems a forgotten art, ‘Taker and HHH do their best to sell everything like a gunshot. Their (superior) match at the previous ‘Mania relied on heavy selling, but this Hell in a Cell match feels like half an hour of HHH or ‘Taker (or both!) laying on the canvas, grimacing in pain. It becomes a slog for the viewer to watch at times. I hesitate to use the word ‘boring,’ but some stretches of the bout do test patience. Some parts are gripping, especially the closing moments. A battered and bruised HHH’s defiant ‘suck it’ taunt in the face of an Undertaker holding a sledgehammer is a classic WrestleMania moment. But the over-selling is a problem that clouds the match. Not only that, but the story of the match as an ‘end of an era’ simply makes no sense. What era is supposed to come to an end? Both wrestlers are still fighting. The era where they were main eventers ended in the late noughties. I still don’t know what era they are talking about!
Overall, it is a good match, but not a great match. I prefer their first ‘Mania bout, at ‘Mania X-17 to this one. It’s full of action, brawling and unforced drama. The ‘Hell in a Cell,’ as is often the case with the gimmick in the PG era, is merely a setting for the match, rather than becoming part of the match itself. There’s blood, liberal use of chairs, a sledgehammer, and plenty of over-selling, but it feels redundant. There’s little in this match that we didn’t see in their No Holds Barred match at ‘Mania XXVII. HBK both adds and deducts from the match. He feels like the Hell in a Cell structure surrounding the ring: an unnecessary gimmick to give reason for a third match between the two wrestlers. Put their match at ‘Mania X-17 here instead of this one. It’s much better!
VERDICT: 6/10. A pointless match, when the final bell rings. It’s not an end of an era at all. Excessive selling and HBK’s interference make the match a chore to watch at times. Not only that, but it tells a similar story to their match at ‘Mania XXVII. Watch HHH vs ‘Taker at ‘Mania X-17 instead!
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